Ban lockdown, red zone residents from municipal rec centres in Simcoe Muskoka: region’s top doc

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Simcoe Muskoka’s top doctor is recommending municipalities in the region ban residents living in Ontario’s lockdown and red zone areas from accessing their recreation centres.

In a letter addressed to Simcoe County and Muskoka municipalities, Barrie, Orillia and the four First Nations in the area, Dr. Charles Gardner, the region’s medical officer of health, said the local COVID-19 situation is evolving and that there’s a “very high potential” of case counts continuing to increase in the area.

Read more: 29 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Simcoe Muskoka, local total reaches 1,938

“Given reports that I have received recently of increased visitation to restaurants, bars and other establishments in our communities by individuals from the red/control and the grey/lockdown zones, and the provincial advice for travel from such areas to be restricted to be for essential purposes only, I am presently considering additional measures that I may take to address this risk,” Gardner wrote.

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“I will also be proceeding soon with a letter of instruction to all workplaces, strengthening the provincial regulations already in place.”

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On Monday, the region under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit entered Ontario’s orange “restrict” level of the province’s COVID-19 response framework, while Toronto and Peel Region entered the lockdown stage.

York Region, Durham, Hamilton, Halton and Waterloo entered the province’s red “control” category.

“There is increased potential for people from these areas to seek access to the recreational facilities of the municipalities in the County of Simcoe and the District of Muskoka,” Gardner wrote in his letter.

Read more: About 40 household COVID-19 clusters reported in Simcoe Muskoka in November

“This carries with it the added risk of transmission both among such individuals and to others who live here.”

Gardner said the health unit recently learned that municipalities have the authority to limit the admission of people on their property, which means they’re able to do so to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

“With the vaccination of the population against COVID-19 on the horizon, there is renewed hope,” Gardner said.

“All the more reason to redouble our efforts, though it will probably only be by late 2021 that we will have a achieved a level of vaccination necessary to protect the population.”

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